Health Alert:

Starting Feb. 29, masking is optional but encouraged in UPMC medical facilities and most patient care settings.

Thomas H. – Esophageal Cancer Patient Story

Image of Thomas.

Thomas Hincy had an upset stomach while traveling in Europe. When he returned home in South Strabane Township, he visited his primary care provider, who ordered some blood tests. The results revealed Thomas was anemic.

His doctor ordered him a colonoscopy and endoscopy. It was discovered that Thomas had cancer in the lower part of his esophagus, and he was diagnosed with stage III esophageal cancer in August 2023.

Thomas’ doctor referred him to Ziad S. Fawaz, MD, a radiation oncologist at Washington Health System Radiation Oncology, in partnership with UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Mark Knestrick, MD, Pharm.D, a medical oncologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Washington.

Thomas received chemotherapy and radiation treatment for four and a half weeks. On Jan. 9, 2024, he had a surgical procedure known as a transhiatal esophagectomy, where his esophagus was removed, and his stomach was reshaped into a tube to build a new esophagus. He recovered in the hospital for one week.

Cancer Free

“Thomas’ surgery showed there was no residual cancer after chemoradiation,” says Dr. Fawaz, who adds that this isn’t typical for 70% of patients.

A PET scan confirmed the 79-year-old was cancer free. Thomas is continuing to heal, using a feeding tube to get necessary nutrients. He returns for a follow-up visit with his surgical team in July.

“I was impressed with the radiation department and Dr. Fawaz’ treatment plan. I had an aggressive form of cancer and the radiation therapy was able to control it and keep it in check,” says Thomas.

He adds that he had a positive care journey.

“All of the staff were professional and friendly,” says Thomas who lives five minutes away from the medical and radiation oncology facilities.

“I felt very comfortable when I went there and if I ever had any questions, they were there to answer them.”